This Instagram Entrepreneur Is Down to Share the Wealth
Amber Ogunsola felt shit out of luck when she graduated from college and had no job lined up.
Like many of us, she applied for every job out there, but never felt satisfied with what she was doing. When her luck ran out in Atlanta, she moved home and went back to the drawing board. She knew she wanted to be her own boss and wanted to show black women in a positive light.
While living at home she created the idea of Gxld Room, a online shop that sells beauty products and jewelry. She now is able to support herself on the profits from Gxld Room, and the reason is because of shoppers who find her page through the Instagram page, which she markets heavily. Amber sat down with us and gave us the tips that other entrepreneurs don’t want you to know for growing your social media pages.
Where did the vision of the Gxld Room stem from and how did you get started?
I played with the thought for a while, but also wanted to use what I already knew with social media. I knew my target audience was black women and women of color in my age group. I’m on social media more than the average person because it’s my job, and I got so tired of seeing women who looked liked me in a bad light, so I was like, “When I start my own business, I’m going to make sure it’s in a positive light and uplift black women the best way I can.”
For the first three months, I didn’t have a job, so I was using social media to build up buzz and my brand. Once I got a job, I put that money into my business and a few months later I did my first photoshoot. My first step in starting my business was hard because I didn’t have money. Custom jewelry was something I wanted to do because once you order it, it takes a while to get made. So that’s where I got the idea to do name necklaces, etc. I used Etsy which saved me money because I didn’t have to make a website.
Instagram is what really makes me my money because that’s what I use to advertise. I started off with posting inspirational photos. That took me to 10k followers within the first year. I would use hashtags that related to black women, which helped build my following quickly. Another thing that helped is that I sent my jewelry to brand ambassadors which helped spread the word. I didn’t pay them at the time, they would get it for free and in exchange I would get a promotion. Other promo pages with a large following of black women I would pay for advertising. Most of them were excited to just receive free product.
Can you describe what you do for a living in your own words?
I would describe myself as a social media specialist, entrepreneur, social media maven and hopefully one day soon I can call myself a philanthropist. I’m still trying to get into my field of film and the TV industry out here in LA as well.
What is a social media specialist?
Someone who specializes in the tools and metrics of social media and knows how to effectively build a social media channel.
How did your brand blow up and how does social media help your business make money?
I think putting out a consistent image helped my brand a lot. Once I figured out my audience and what they wanted, I went from there. With me being a black women, it was easy to go from there. Once I got a lot of followers, I stopped using hashtags because the likes came by themselves. All my customers come from social media. On my website account, it says 98% of my customers come from my Instagram. I’m looking for ways to branch out from just Instagram, but for now that’s my primary source of income.
How can people fix up their social media business/personal accounts and gain followers?
1. Make sure your images are high quality.
2. Hashtags, because that will definitely help you get noticed if they’re good.
3. Be consistent, if I go a whole week without posting, I will lose followers. People look for [reasons] to unfollow people, so if they see you aren’t posting they’ll unfollow you. It’s so time consuming and people don’t have a lot of time and that’s where the disconnect happens.
How often should a person post a day?
I say 3-4 times a day, at different times. There are specific times you should post, 6-9 a.m. (when people are going to work), lunch time (11 a.m.-1 p.m.), when people are getting off work (5-7 p.m.), and right before bed (8 p.m.-midnight). If it’s an event going on, like an award show, people are tweeting and on Instagram. Holidays are very important as well.
What is your business model and how can women start their own company like yours?
My model is that I want my brand to be something that can sell anything. So I’m not stuck with selling jewelry forever. I can stop selling jewelry and sell something else, so I’m able to focus on my audience more than my product. I think this keeps customers longer too. Once you have people’s hearts, you can sell them anything. Like Ming Lee for example sold hair, but she didn’t love it. She loves business and loves to sell things, so her audience will always support her because of her great marketing and branding skills.
Women need to find their inspiration for the company, because that sets the tone for the next 5-10 years. Black Opal knew they wanted to start a cosmetic company for women of color and they have been consistent throughout the years. Even when they come out with new products, they keep their audience in mind. If they change their inspiration and vision and target all races, that changes everything, including the name of their company.
Should people research their industry prior to joining?
You should always do that because there’s always going to be something new happening on the market. I wouldn’t 100% invest your energy into what your competitors are doing because I feel like there’s enough money out here for everyone. Consumers buy from you one day and someone else who sells the same thing the next day, so don’t trip up on that.
Some brands randomly block me because we have the same target audience or are in the same industry and I never understood that because what does that do? It’s like, 8 billion people in the world and I only have 20,000 followers on Instagram, so what does blocking someone solve? I wish businesses and brands could work together more, despite being in different industries.
Why did you decide to stay low key since your company is pretty big?
Having a personal and business page is so time consuming. Having social media is such a job because you have to do your makeup, hair, travel, etc. For so long I’ve just been focused on my business. Now that my income is more steady I feel like I can spend time building my personal brand as well. I also want to build my personal brand because I want to help women build their own businesses and I want them to be able to see the balance on both my pages.
Why are you launching a business portion to your company and what will it consist of?
I’m launching a business portion because I love helping people and I have a lot of knowledge that I can help people outside of my family. I feel like I’m not utilizing what I know and giving back enough. I went to China last month and met vendors and connects and it made me realize how much money is out here and that other women can be a part of it. We spend so much money every day, I want to let black women know that they can do it too. [There are] so many people who were broke last year and rich this year, and they can do it too. I will be releasing it within the next few months.
What’s next for Gxld Room?
The business portion for my women supporters. Helping women launch their own business is very important for me. My current vendor list is beauty (hair, lashes, makeup, etc.) but hopefully it grows into fashion, tech, etc.
What do you want our readers to take from this interview?
The take away is to not let your current circumstance dictate where your final destination is. When I graduated I was kinda depressed for a while, but when you push through great things can happen. People love to box women in and tell us what we can and can’t do when you really can do anything you want. Like I write, I’m an actress, I have a business, and I don’t let people tell me what I can and can’t do.